Over two dozen amazing venues combine efforts to ring out the year for the last 3rd in the Burg event of 2021. Just a mere six blocks on North Front Street separate two of the longest-standing civic institutions in Harrisburg, and, this Friday night, they offer two distinctly different looks at identity.
Rachel O’Connor, curator at the Art Association of Harrisburg, has unveiled an exhibit that could well serve as a time capsule for the year 2021 as she presents a microcosm of the world’s focus on topics that rivet attention to both national and individual identity. When we look in the mirror each day, what do we see beyond the reflection staring back at us? For a quartet of female artists, answers portray ideas through art mediums at the AAH for this closing show of the year.
“Situated: Confronting Identity” offers artists Bridie Alvarez, Lucy Giboyeaux, Larissa Ramey and Destiny Santana mining personal investigation by digging deep in cultural and historical tropes. The exhibit addresses race, nationality and gender in its powerful presentation that, at times, leaves it all on the surface, taken at face value and, at others, shows subtle truths, nuanced, barely hinting at hidden meanings under layers of paint or in the gaze of the subject. This thought-provoking group delves into the very essence of what makes us who and what we are. Beyond the physical lies the contextualization of culture and the duality of the psyche, often intertwining creating complex machinations of external and internal forces.
Bridie Alvarez, a Mexican American artist, deals with themes of identity filtered through a lens of “memory, loss and isolation.” She finds “religion, family, gender and ethnicity” central to the narrative elements she incorporates in her paintings. Employing the medium of collage drawn from “family photos, political signage and beauty advertisements,” she brings a sense of cultural currency to the foreground in capturing interpersonal and psychological moments that reflect past and present as one.
Lucy Giboyeaux is a Puerto Rican artist who works in sculptures that pay tribute to her heritage. She keeps the customs and rituals—and the language that evokes them—highly visible and at the center of her hand-wrought works and paintings. She explores the internal drive of her people, who, though beset by tragedy, keep moving forward. Giboyeaux achieves this by highlighting human resiliency through relational connections (family and friends) as well as human connection (the community at large). She holds a mirror up to cultural identity, zeroing in on “her own Puerto Rican identity in the diaspora.” In referencing “the Taino language for many of her titles, she honors her cultural past and helps keep it alive.”
Larissa Ramey is a bi-racial artist who uses photography as her medium of choice. Her works cover topical themes of race, heritage and body image. She often uses herself as subject matter in her quest for what being Black means to her not only as an artist but as a woman of color. The lens of labels becomes secondary in discovering true meaning, revealing how the parts of heritage and ancestry connect to the present.
Destiny Santana is also a multimedia artist whose work is both figurative and abstract. Her paintings are emotionally charged, depicting hardwired traits such as facial expression and body language that share the stories from within. A Harlem-born artist, Santana is inspired by the streets of New York and uses that backdrop as the canvas for telling current events and how they affect her culture. Her group of paintings is entitled “Shadow Work,” which addresses the close introspection of dealing with the dark side of one’s psyche and learning how to overcome it. In realizing how to accept and understand oneself, she concludes it is attainable through self-love and self-discipline.
The exhibition opened Dec. 3, but the artists’ reception is the centerpiece for this Friday’s 3rd in the Burg from 5 to 8 p.m. Hosted by Tracey Meloni, the party will feature master musician Jonathan Diggs Duke on trumpet and piano for a memorable evening.
The Art Association of Harrisburg is located at 21 N. Front St., Harrisburg. www.artassocofhbg.com.
Holiday Art Show at the Civic Club
What started out as a revolutionary outpost for diversity through art back in February has now become a cultural mainstay on the calendar. This seasonal approach to showcasing fresh talent takes place at the Civic Club of Harrisburg.
Identity here comes in the manner of personal growth. The lifecycle of an emerging artist can be likened to that of the caterpillar going through complete metamorphosis, resulting in a beautiful butterfly. Artists may go through a series of new techniques, exploring various mediums and, in the process, develop a style that becomes uniquely their own—a dramatic metamorphosis, so to speak, from chrysalis to evolutionary identity. Friday’s 3rd in the Burg marks the fourth round of assembling this special group, “The Maestros of Midtown,” for the closing chapter of 2021.
You’ll see familiar names and faces like Bethany Nicholle, who brings her abstract paintings and a full regalia of marketable wares, including books of poetry that she has authored and will sign for posterity. Carrie Feidt’s paintings of adorable animals and avenues of imagination capture an innocence, sweetly serene. Lily Roque, tattoo artist by night and day, adds an air of mystery through her manga and comic art. Annie Crow’s paintings deal with the universal theme of death, but, for now, I choose to remain among the quick, as long as I am able. Jeannine-Marie upcycles clothing to create one-of-a-kind custom pieces for her Savagehabitexchange.com, while Douglas Beard astounds with his artisanally crafted lamps. Larry Washington Jr., aka Larry Lenzz, photographer-at-large, returns with his dramatic night scenes of cityscapes, while pop art painter Grace Robinson, via Color Your Soul, offers commissioned pieces as well as iconic images like Bob Marley.
The artwork of Nicole Herbert embraces photography, ceramics and found objects. Quincy Yates returns to the scene with his goal of seeing the world dressed in tie-dye as promoted by his Shopkidsinc.com. Repeat artist Mansa Abuchi Mawakili has expanded his collection of Afrocentric, handcrafted jewelry for the holidays. Darius Davis dabbles in acrylic paintings when not creating fashion videos. Jemar Sweets, photographer, specializes in architectural prints as well as landscapes in capturing views of the city. Tyler Minnich, painter, will be engaged in a live demonstration of his craft as a special component of the evening. Brad Mauer, ringleader of the group, has put together this eclectic entourage for the one-night-only event from 5 to 9 p.m. The “Cercus” insect cartoons are synonymous with Brad’s fascinating foray in the art world.
Music will be provided by violinist Marie Valigorsky from 6 to 7 p.m. Who knows, maybe even Santa may show up unless there is a Claus(e) in his contract with no public appearances before the big night.
The Harrisburg Civic Club is located at 612 N. Front. St., Harrisburg. www.civicclubofharrisburg.com
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